I know I owe you guys a proper follow-up for my recent post, The #paranormalhotel: what it looks like, who stays there, and how we make it work. (Part 1.) Tonight, though, I’m looking forward to sleeping in the dark after four graveyard shifts, so I thought I’d share the address for the #paranormalhotel hashtag on twitter to tide you over.
The first two nights were pretty uneventful but Tuesday took a strange turn, and last night was kind of interesting too.
[Note: Technically, because I start at midnight, what I refer to as Tuesday night is actually Wednesday morning. I get confused by that when interesting astronomical events happen too. But I digress.]
You can read the live tweets here:
I’ve actually started writing a sort of character profile or mini-story that elaborates on one of the folks you meet briefly in the live tweeting string, but I hear a bird singing. Even if he is crazy early, he’s reminding me that I want to be awake during the day tomorrow, so I’ll bid you a good night.
I think I’ve already expressed how discombobulated I’ve been feeling lately. I’ve acknowledged all the major changes in my life in the last eight months, and I’ve been trying to cut myself some slack about feeling a little … off. Mostly, I’ve been blaming my disorientation on inconsistent sleep and work schedules. In a recent post, I admitted that I feel like I’m sleepwalking or dreaming much of the time.
I had a rough day at the hotel. When I work the first shift, part of my job is doing the audit just before 1:00p. That means, in a short period of time, I have to count out the cash drawer, close my shift, audit the day’s sales (in both the computer’s reservation system and on the credit card machine,) prepare some reports, drop my cash, and start a new shift. It’s not hard. Repeatedly, however, my manager has stressed the importance of finishing the tasks BEFORE the hotel’s day rolls over … at precisely 1:01p.
Today, at 12:38p, the drawer came up $247.23 short.
Right about then, one of the housekeepers rushed up to the desk to say she was out of towels. I assured her there was a load in the dryer that would be ready for me to fold in about fifteen minutes. Panic flared in her eyes. She didn’t move; she didn’t say anything. A fly landed on the shiny marble desktop between us. She didn’t even glance at it. I said, “Maybe a little less than fifteen minutes?” She sighed, then trudged away from me, shaking her head.
I set to staring at first one report then another. A couple of (precious) minutes later I heard someone come into the lobby and stride toward the desk. I looked up. My (gorgeous) husband smiled down at me, then asked if I would like him to fetch some lunch. Of course I was nice to him, but all I could really do was shoo him away as fast as possible and hope that he wouldn’t come back until I had dealt with my problems.
Just before 1:00p, I realized the guy who had worked the night shift had screwed up. Once I figured that out, I was able to tally a proper cash drop – of more than $700 dollars – for both of us. When my husband returned, he didn’t ask any questions; he only handed a paper bag and a huge soda to me and wished me luck. I finished the audit late. (Which did cause some complications later in the day, but I survived.) I got the towels folded before the housekeeper could melt down entirely, and started another load washing.
By 1:30p I was sitting in my chair, eating a cold hamburger, thinking about how much of my life has become weirdly repetitive. The particular chain of events that had frazzled me, on this particular day, was a slightly fresh twist on individual events that happen again and again.
In the last few months at work, I have washed, dried and folded hundreds (thousands?) of white towels and white sheets. I have counted an obscene amount of money out of cash drawers. (And freaked-out repeatedly about apparent discrepancies, which I eventually solve.) I always wear the same clothes. (A uniform shirt and the one pair of black pants that I own.)
At home, I wash my uniform shirts and pants multiple times each week. When I do that, I always take the dog with me, and I always use the same machine. I eat the same meals over and over, now that I don’t really cook anymore. I almost always fall asleep on the sofa. (I’m still trying to make it all the way through a show I recorded weeks ago.)
As I was chewing on my burger (and my thoughts) the fly made another appearance. Its flight pattern was erratic. It landed often, resting briefly, before struggling back up into the air to bumble along for another foot or two.
I started thinking about how flies do that in the autumn, when cool evenings force them to shelter indoors. The phenomenon has been more obvious to me since we moved to the apartment. Out at the “farm”, flies were more common, and I didn’t pay much attention to their behaviors. (I suppose they were attracted to the chickens … which was unfortunate for the flies, because chickens love nothing better than to snack on flies.) In town, I had only noticed flies within the last month or so. In the apartment, we hardly ever see an insect indoors, probably because we live on the second floor. Because I’ve become spoiled by the absence of creepy-crawlies, I often just leave the patio door part-way open. (The cat and dog like to wander out onto the balcony, then back in.) Lately, a few flies have taken advantage of my carelessness.
After I finished my lunch, I sorted the mail. (Some of our guests use the hotel like a rooming house, even receiving regular mail delivery there.) Once I’d marked the correct room number on each envelope and tossed them into a nearby outbox, the desktop was clear for the first time in the day.
It was at that moment that I realized that I did not KNOW I had dropped the cash into the lockbox at the end of audit-time. I racked my memory. I could clearly picture myself sealing the envelope and writing the total on it. I remembered setting it aside, so that I could run the audit reports. I might have set my lunch bag on top of it after my husband left it with me.
I may have – must have, I told myself – slipped it into the slot as I passed by it, on my way to the laundry room to fold those damn towels.
I propped my elbows on the desk, in the space I’d just cleared, and dropped my face into my palms. I am so fucking tired of not having a functional brain, I thought. I am so fucking tired, period.
For the last three mornings running, I’d been awakened – earlier than I would like – by a single fly that likes to land – over and over – on whatever exposed skin it can find.
Do you know what occurred to me then, while I sat with my head in my hands? Flies like dead things.
Actions repeated over and over and over again. Lost memories. Disorientation.
Kinda sounds like the way a ghost would perceive its existence, doesn’t it?
Have I clearly communicated that I now work at a different hotel than I used to? One closer to my apartment? The boss is the same. The money is the same. The clientele is very different (but that’s for a future post – one entitled, ‘I met two prostitutes on my first day at work.‘) My shifts are going to be all over the place; each week I’ll have one in the early morning, a few in the evenings, and an overnight or two. (Apparently I’ll do anything to avoid a potentially nasty winter commute.) I finished my training at the new place last week, and Saturday night was my first full shift completely alone. It went fine. I received a small, partial paycheck for my training hours, which I tucked into my purse.
When I got home at a little after midnight that night, I thought of setting the paycheck out so that my husband could deposit it in the morning while I slept, but I didn’t. The next day, I woke and looked for it, but couldn’t find it. I asked my husband if he’d snagged it, but he hadn’t. I looked everywhere for it before finally admitting to myself that I’d either lost it or left it at the hotel.
I asked the dog if he wanted to go for a ride. (He said yes.) The two of us drove the three required minutes to get to the hotel. Thankfully, my boss pulled my check out of a drawer as soon as he saw me. He handed it to me, along with the sweater I’d also left behind the night before. When I got home, I wanted to sign the check. I looked in my purse. I looked in my pockets. I looked at the dog. (He suggested we go back down to the garage to look in the truck. Or maybe he just wanted to go for a longer ride.)
Yes. My paycheck was under the sweater, which I’d left lying in the truck.
I am a terrible waker-upper. Alarms don’t phase me. A ringing phone is useless. When I have to get up early, someone has to actually come tell me to get up. (It’s not that they have to shake me, or yell at me, or anything. Sometimes, all they have to do is walk into the room.) This Monday morning, my husband was on wake-up duty, because I had to be at work by 7:00a.
Going to bed early on Sunday night wasn’t an option, because our whole family was studying for my son’s first test in his college science class. (Hey, he’s also still a high school junior, and home schooling habits die hard.) We finished up at around midnight and the men-folk went off to bed. Me? I was too wired to sleep yet, so I found the most soporific TV recording I had, and laid down on the sofa. (It was Little Ice Age: Big Chill, which I record and watch every time it airs on the History Channel.) I’m pretty sure I fell asleep by 1:00a.
I dreamed of things (like alarms) and people (like my son) and semi-people (like my dog) trying to wake me. Of course, I didn’t open my eyes because I knew none of them counted … my husband would come to me when it was really time to get up.
When he finally did appear in the living room, I was surprised it was still so dark. Then I reminded myself that it is now past the autumnal equinox – and that dark mornings will soon become the rule. I assured my husband I was awake, and told him to go back to bed. I extracted myself from my quilt cocoon and got up.
I used the bathroom. I grabbed a cold can of Diet Pepsi. I returned to the living room, sat in the recliner and lit a cigarette. It was then that the television asked, “Could a 21st century ice age actually ignite this apocalyptic chain of events?” Not until that moment did I look at the clock. It was 2:57a.
I went back to sofa and slept like the dead until my husband actually awakened me at 6:30a. I had to touch him when he came to me, to make sure it wasn’t another dream.
Reality is slippery for me right now. The world I lived in for more than a decade has become a fading collection of old blog posts, diary entries and photographs. My new world feels simple and clean and small, but also dangerous and gritty and terrifyingly huge. My life revolves around work which can only be described as surreal. I am tired.
Do you know what is saving me right now? The paranormal. It is the one thing – the one interest – that has been with me for my whole life, in every phase of my life. All those years of seeking out all things eerie and beautiful and strange have schooled me well. Thanks to my love affair with the paranormal, feeling disconnected from, (outside of, parallel to,) normal life is nothing new to me.